The Islamic State’s Obvious Next Step: Arming Its Drones

The Islamic State could surpass Al Qaeda and 9/11 by mounting a mass drone attack in the United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Islamic State could surpass Al Qaeda and 9/11 by mounting a mass drone attack in the United States. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

We recently posted about fears that, one day, the Islamic State might mount a dirty (radiological) bomb attack. The recent loss (and subsequent location) of radioactive material in Basra, Iraq sparked concerns that the Islamic State may yet get its hands on some.

The Islamic State has been degraded recently by U.S.-led coalition articles. But it may still be capable of upgrading its attacks on the West. In a recent article at the Daily Beast, Clive Irving writes about an, if not low-, medium-tech and cost-effective threat that is far from outside the realm of possibility for the Islamic State. He interviews Chris Abbott, the executive director of a think tank called Open Briefing which believes that “ISIS has already recognized the opportunity provided by off-the-shelf drone technology in its planning of attacks on Western cities.” It is already using drones in Syria and Iraq for surveillance.

A swarm drone attack against a large sporting event would be potentially disastrous.

Adding insult to injury …

The drones would be equipped with cameras so that they could film the actual attack as it takes place and live stream it on the Internet.

How can such an attack be prevented? Abbott says there “is no individual counter-measure that could be effective.”

“You have to have a layered defense that starts with the regulation and registration of drone ownership, has a second layer that restricts the ownership of larger and more capable drones, then you need systems that can warn of attacks and possibly jam the channels being used to control the drones and, as a last line of defense, the ability to intercept the drones and shoot them down.”

Of course, Abbott points out, “if you have to resort to shooting them out of the sky in an urban environment or at a packed stadium the risk of collateral damage is very high.”